After a fairly dismal fall box office in movie theaters, the great hope for exhibition was that Marvel Studios‘ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever might save a theatrical market that has had very few $100 million blockbusters since the summer. Sure, Warner Bros‘ Black Adam, starring Dwayne Johnson, opened well three weeks back, but it hadn’t been since Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder in July that a movie opened with more than $50 million.
Thankfully, Wakanda Forever seems to have changed this statistic by opening with an estimated $84 million on Friday, which included $28 million in Thursday previews that began at 4pm. This is compared to the $29 million Thursday previews for Love and Thunder, which led to an opening Friday of $69.5 million. The original 2018 Black Panther had an opening day of $75.9 million, as another comparison, and that opened with $202 million on a holiday weekend.
A major caveat is that Friday was Nov. 11 aka Veterans Day, which means that it was a school and government holiday, which could have boosted Wakanda Forever‘s Friday numbers. As of now, it’s the 10th biggest domestic opening for any movie, although the holiday opening and the fact that the Black Panther sequel had earlier previews than other major blockbusters (including the original Black Panther) could partially account for it having such a hearty Friday opening.
As of now, I do not expect Wakanda Forever to match Black Panther‘s $202 million opening, but it will likely open closer to $170 million or possibly more. (Disney is stating projections of $174 to $184 million.) It’s hard to tell how much of the movie’s opening was boosted by the Veteran’s Day holiday and how that might affect business on Saturday and Sunday. (One positive is that Wakanda Forever scored an “A” CinemaScore, so it clearly has audience support.)
Check back tomorrow for the Box Office Breakdown, a full weekend box office report, as well as a preview of next weekend.
(Box office data provided by TheNumbers.com.)
Edward Douglas has been writing about the box office for 21 years at places like ComingSoon.net, The Tracking Board, and many others, but mostly under the banner of “The Weekend Warrior.” He’s also a film critic with bylines at Film Journal, The New York Daily News, Den of Geek, and other places.